San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is asking the city to pay his legal expenses for a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former communications director. Filner’s lawyer sent a letter to the city, imploring it to cover the mayor’s legal bills in a lawsuit that accuses him of asking his former female aide “to work without panties” and other alleged acts of sexual harassment.
City council members—who overwhelmingly want Filner to resign—are scheduled to convene Tuesday night for a special closed session to consider the mayor’s request.
Under California law, Filner is allowed to set up his own legal defense fund in the case the city rejects his request. Filner’s lawyer, Harvey Berger, argues that his client should be defended under the city’s expense. The letter states that Filner should have the city pay for representation under California government codes 825 and 995 – which deal with compensation and defense of public employees.
Since the claim was first filed by Filner’s former employee Irene Jackson, seven women have publicly come forward and detailed other alleged acts of sexual harassment, including touching and kissing. Jackson, who is represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, was the first woman to publicly accuse Filner of harassment. In her 11-page lawsuit, Jackson claimed Filner demanded kisses and told her he wanted to see her naked.
The mayor, who is 70 and divorced, has since apologized for “offending” women. On Friday, Filner announced that he would enter two weeks of “intensive” therapy starting Aug. 5 to “begin the process of addressing [his] behavior.”
Filner’s own party leaders, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have urged him to resign. ”The conduct of some of these people that we’re talking about here is reprehensible,” said Pelosi last week about both the Filner and Anthony Weiner scandals. “It is so disrespectful of women, and what’s really stunning about it is they don’t even realize. They don’t have a clue.”
Feinstein directly called for the mayor’s resignation and predicted a recall election for the mayor’s seat. “It’s a very tough job, and I don’t think that somebody who is lacking a moral compass really sets a role model or really will provide the kind of leadership that San Diegans want.” Feinstein said on Sunday.